Lyme disease can insidiously affect you, leaving you clueless to the havoc it’s wreaking on your body. According to the CDC, they see reports of about 30,000 cases each year but suspect that many go unreported.
Let’s look at the symptoms of Lyme disease and treatment options, and answer pressing questions like, can Lyme disease kill you?
Lyme Disease Overview
Lyme disease is a chronic bacterial illness, caused by Borrelia burgdoferi, which can create devastating effects if left untreated. Unfortunately, people do not always recognize the disease and they pay for it with serious health impairments.
This disease comes from infected deer tick bites. You are at risk for contracting this illness if you live in the North Eastern United States, especially if you hike or live near wooded areas.
Early Symptoms of Lyme Disease
You may not experience any symptoms for weeks or months after the tick bite. If you suffer from some or all of the following symptoms, you may be in the early stages of Lyme disease:
- bulls-eye rash around the bite site
- general sensation of not feeling well
- temperature over 100.5 and chills
- swollen lymph nodes
- aching joints
If left untreated, your Lyme disease pain will dissipate, but this does not mean that the disease is gone. On the contrary, the worst is yet to come.
Diagnosis of Lyme Disease
Doctors can perform a blood test to detect antibodies your body makes to fight this bacterial disease. However, research suggests that 20-30% of the time the antibody blood tests for Lyme disease produce a false negative. Meaning, you cannot rely solely on the blood test.
The CDC requires testing 5 bands when they suspect a tick born illness. Doctors often need to diagnose it by patient history, area of living and/or travel, the possibility of tick exposure, and symptoms.
Treatment for Lyme Disease
The extent of treatment that a patient will need for Lyme disease depends on the symptoms they experience and the progression of the disease. Possible treatments include:
- antibiotics, such as Doxycycline, Ceftriaxone, and Amoxicillin
- pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen or Diclofenac
- seeing specialists, such as a neurologist or rheumatologist
If you suspect Lyme disease, seek medical attention immediately, at the Sponaugle Wellness Institute. The earlier you start treatment, the better your chances for a full recovery.
Answers to Your Pressing Questions
Keep reading to answer important questions you may have about Lyme disease.
How Long Can You Have Lyme Disease Without Knowing?
As we mentioned earlier, Lyme disease is tricky to diagnose. So, you can go quite a while infected with it and not knowing.
This story from the Today Show tells of a person who suffered for over 8 years before finally getting diagnosed and treated for Lyme Disease! For years, doctors misdiagnosed them and they lived on feeling crazy and faking to others that they felt well. That’s an extreme case, but a possibility.
What Happens If You Let It Go?
Enduring the suffering may sound brave, but it’s really foolish. Aside from the fact that you will stay exhausted forever, you will face serious health consequences.
Your joint pain that subsided after a while will come back in the form of arthritis with stiffness and swelling. Overtime, this can cause painful and debilitating scarring, nodules, and bone thinning.
Chronic Lyme disease can also lead to short-term memory problems and impaired thinking skills. All of the problems involved with the condition often lead to depression as well.
In the later stages, the disease affects the peripheral nervous system as well. This causes nerve pain, numbness, and muscle weakness.
Some people also develop Bell’s palsy from this, which causes drooping of one side of the face due to paralysis. Those affected also face possible vision and hearing loss over time.
Though less common than the other long-term effects, this ailment left untreated can lead to a slow and irregular heartbeat. It can also lead to liver damage a serious kidney disease.
Does This Affect Pregnancy?
Disturbing research tells us that Borrelia burgdoferi can profoundly impact a woman’s pregnancy and unborn baby. Pregnant women suspected of infection should receive prompt antibiotic treatment and close medical observation.
The mother will feel exacerbated pregnancy symptoms, including sickness and exhaustion, from Lyme. However, her baby faces the real danger.
Mother can transmit the disease to her unborn child, putting the baby at serious risk from all the complications. Moreover, the bacteria may infect the placenta. When this occurs, the mother may miscarry her child.
Will an Infected Mother Harm Her Nursing Infant?
A nursing mother will not infect her baby. Lyme disease does not pass through the breast milk.
Can Lyme Disease Kill You?
Finally an answer to the question you’ve been waiting for! Though Lyme disease fatalities do not occur often, it can kill you in several ways.
When the spirochete bacteria enters the heart tissues, a fatal condition, called Lyme carditis, develops. This blocks the heart’s electrical potential and throws its beats off rhythm. If you experience dizziness, fainting spells, a floppy feeling heartbeat, and/or chest pain, seek medical attention right away.
Another potentially fatal condition, focal proliferative mesangial nephropathy glomerulonephritis, can occur due to the spike in IgA antibodies from the affected person’s own body. This condition affects the functional portion of the kidneys and leads to acute renal failure. Left untreated, the person will die.
New research found that the bacteria can also cause hepatitis. Medical technology makes this inflammation and scarring of the liver very treatable, but it can lead to death in extreme cases.
Death can also occur when the bacterium damages the phrenic nerve. This can cause the diaphragm, our breathing muscle that separates the chest from the abdominal cavity, to stop working on one or both sides. When this happens, respiratory failure occurs.
Take Your Symptoms Seriously
If you suspect that a tick may have bitten you, or your ongoing symptoms resemble this ailment, then seek medical attention as soon as possible. Though difficult to detect, Lyme disease is possible to treat before permanent damage occurs.
The most pressing question we asked was, Can Lyme disease kill you? As you learned above, it can if left untreated. Don’t let it so you can enjoy a healthy life and read about more curious medical topics on our website!